Hi - newbie here, and apologies if this is a topic that's been done to death (although I've searched the forums and not found anything that sounds just like our situation). Hoping someone has been through similar and can either give us some suggestions of things we haven't tried already or just some reassurance that things will get better with time!
We've had our 4 year-old boy at home for just over two months. He came from a regular rescue charity (not grey-specific) and we were well warned he would need someone at home with him all the time at first, building up alone time gradually once he settled in. No problem, me and my partner both work from home and we our teenage son is around most of the time outside working hours so we were confident that one of us would always be around until he was settled. We don't have that much of a social life even outside pandemic times so we fully expected to just include him in our plans when we wanted to go somewhere together.
The reality is that he velcro-attached himself to me almost immediately on day one. He mostly ignores my partner and son moving around in and out of the house, but he jumps up to follow me as soon as I move from a seat and gets distressed if I go out and leave him behind with other family members. He's not destructive, he doesn't toilet in the house or bark loudly. It's mostly just pacing and whining, but he is obviously stressed and it's also pretty distressing for the family members left in the house with him. The longest he's been in the house without me has been about 25 minutes for an emergency grocery run. At his worst point, he built himself up to a bit of a yelp / bark at the door; at his best, he settled on the sofa by himself for about 3 minutes with an occasional gentle whine (we have webcams downstairs and upstairs so I can see what he's been up to).
Things we're already doing / trying to do:
Read the books (Patricia McConnell / Julie Naismith) - all the SA advice seems to start with the assumption that your dog will be fine as long as they have 'a person, any person' with them
Exercise - usually a 45-minute walk before and after work, with some scent games / training / zoomie time in the garden mid-morning & afternoon
Sharing care-giving responsibilities around family members
Adaptil collar & diffuser and calming treats
Calm departures & returns
Giving 'special' toys / treats when I leave and taking them away again when I come back (filled Kong, Lickimat, treat balls, Benebone) - he abandons them as soon as I leave and then I have to 'swap' them for a lower-value treat to get them back when I return. Then he loses interest in them next time around (because he associates it with being left??)
Music (Through a Dog's Ear) / dog YouTube on the TV
Using a movable gate / barrier to try and create some distance between us around the house (our home layout is somewhat lacking internal doors, so it's difficult to be in a 'different' room from him during the day)
Using the gate / barrier to give him a safe / enclosed space rather than having free roam of the house (he's never been crated and it's something I'd prefer to avoid due to space issues)
Working through Karen Overall's relaxation protocol, but we're stuck at the stage where I have to go out of sight for 5 seconds or more.
The only thing that has worked so far is giving him a squeaky rubber ball when I leave. He will chew / squeak obsessively for up to 10 minutes (haven't tried this for longer without returning) - no pacing or whining, but just constant squeaking. This is great if no-one else is in the house, but no good if my partner is trying to work! And I'm not convinced that the obsessive chewing / squeaking isn't just another sign of stress.
There are things he does well. He at least gives me some privacy and waits patiently outside the bathroom door. He sleeps outside our bedroom and has done from his first night. He's happy to go on walks with other family members while I stay in the house. He even went into the vet's surgery for a check-up with no fuss (we have to stay outside the building because Covid).
We can't take on another dog, and none of us wants to return him - he was 'bounced' once already (possibly part of the problem), so his chances of adoption get slimmer every time; plus he's 'our' dog now and he's genuinely a joy to have around in every other way. I just need to be able to get out of the house by myself occasionally without worrying about him and the rest of my family.